Portugual look for Ronaldo to end injury woes and kickstart their campaign
Portugal are fervently hoping Cristiano Ronaldo is fit when they take on the United States in their second Group G game tomorrow.
Monday's 4-0 thrashing by the Germans was the biggest loss the Portuguese have suffered at a World Cup and their misery deepened as central defender Pepe was sent off, while Ronaldo struggled for form as he battled a knee injury.
The FIFA World Player of the Year will need to be back to his best for the encounter with the Americans, who surprisingly beat Ghana 2-1 in their opening game.
Rumours about Ronaldo's condition have been swirling around the internet and officials were forced to deny reports that his personal doctor had advised him to quit the tournament.
A few days' rest seem to have helped and his team-mate Miguel Veloso said yesterday that the player appeared to be in good shape.
"I'm not a doctor but from what I see, Ronaldo is fine," Veloso said after a training session in Campinas. "He is training, he is jumping and he is shooting. There is not much else to say."
Coach Paolo Bento also needs to find the right replacements for the suspended Pepe and injured left-back Fabio Coentrao whose tournament is effectively over.
The United States will hope to reproduce the inspired display from the 2002 World Cup when they beat Portugal 3-2 in the group stage, a win which helped them advance to the last 16 at the expense of their rivals.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who was in charge of his native Germany when they beat Portugal 3-1 in the 2006 tournament's third-place match, said he expected Ronaldo to fire on all cylinders in the city of Manaus.
Klinsmann also hopes that his walking wounded recover, in particular Clint Dempsey, who broke his nose after taking a boot to the face against Ghana.
"(Portugal) are going to come into Manaus pretty angry and I don't know how Ronaldo is going to perform when he is angry. We need to show Portugal how good we are," Klinsmann said.
UNITED STATES V PORTUGAL, LIVE, TOMORROW, RTE 1, UTV & BBC 1, 11.00pm